“…the accused were afforded due process and were properly informed of the nature and cause of the accusations against them.” – Judge Teodora Gonzales
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – The local court handling the case against retired Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. et.al recently issued an omnibus order denying the latter’s pleadings to halt trial proceedings.
Palparan, along three others, is charged with kidnapping and serious illegal detention in connection with the enforced disappearance of University of the Philippines (UP) students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan. Palparan and M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario remain at large while two other co-accused have been detained at the headquarters of the Philippine Army in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.
In a decision dated April 3, Judge Teodora Gonzales of the Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 14 denied the omnibus motion for preliminary investigation; to quash or recall warrant of arrest; hold departure order and to suspend proceedings, which was filed by Palparan, Hilario and another accused, S/Sgt. Edgar Osorio. A copy of the decision was sent to Bulatlat.com by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), the private counsel in the instant case.
“We welcome the court’s order as it basically sustains our position all along and is in accord with the law and jurisprudence,” Edre Olalia, NUPL secretary general said in a statement. “It only further proves that Palparan et al. are just obstructing and frustrating justice at all costs.”
The court said that while the accused were initially charged with Violation of Republic Act No. 7438, Violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Violation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment, rape, serious physical injuries, maltreatment of prisoners, arbitrary detention, grave coercion and grave threats, the crimes of kidnapping with serious illegal detention are “deemed included and described in the joint complaint and affidavits for which they [ the accused] were investigated.”
Mrs. Concepcion Empeño and Mrs. Erlinda Cadapan, the mothers of the disappeared, filed the complaint against Palparan et.al in May 2011. A panel of prosecutors from the Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted preliminary investigation and issued a resolution recommending the filing of charges against Palparan et.al.
“…the accused were afforded due process and were properly informed of the nature and cause of the accusations against them,” Gonzales said in her decision.
In a phone interview, Mrs. Cadapan said the charges are somehow inappropriate. “Charges of kidnapping with serious illegal detention portray as though Palparan and his men acted on their own. Their actions were sanctioned by the government. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo even praised him during her State of the Nation Address (Sona). They should be held liable,” Mrs. Cadapan said.
The two UP students and farmer Manuel Merino were abducted by state security forces on June 26, 2006 in Hagonoy Bulacan.
In the same order, the court denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the panel of prosecutors regarding the issue of the propriety of the Court’s order transferring the custody of Osorio and another accused, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado. The two have been detained at the Philippine Army Custodial Management Unit at Fort Bonifacio. The panel of prosecutors petitioned for the transfer of the two accused soldiers at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center at Camp Crame.
In denying the motion, Gonzales said that the Philippine Army Custodial Center (PACC) has more logistics and more personnel compared to PNP Custodial Center.
The NUPL said they would study their next course of action regarding the custody of the accused.
“The government must deliver fugitives pronto and dispel pervading views that it is inutile and even held by the military at the nose, instead of promoting known human rights violators one after the other like those involved in the torture of the Morong 43,” Olalia said, referring to the recent promotion of Major Gen. Jorge Segovia, jailer of the 43 health workers.